HANAPEPE — A big game from Kapaa High School’s Kapena Teixeira was enough to give the Kapaa Warriors the KIF Championship with a 15-12 victory over the Waimea Menehune at Hanapepe Stadium Saturday afternoon.
“(Teixeira) did what we asked him to do,” said Kapaa head coach Philip Rapozo. “He worked hard all week and we went to him. He did his job. Everybody can see what he can do.”
Both sides began the game tentatively, refusing to play through the air for the majority of the first quarter. It wasn’t until a Cody Taniguchi 34-yard field goal early in the second quarter that broke the deadlock, putting the Menehune (3-4, 2-3 KIF) in front of the Warriors (7-1, 5-1 KIF).
Making a play on the ball is the ultimate risk-reward for a cornerback. When Waimea High’s Avery Miguel abandoned his assignment to cut off the receiver’s route, the only thing in front of him was an unimpeded path to the end zone.
Miguel’s 26-yard interception return for a touchdown broke the ice in the first half of what looked to be a stagnant period of offensive football. Menehune running back Cody Taniguchi couldn’t find a lane between the trenches and struggled to run off-tackle, gaining 13 yards on his first five carries of the game.
Immediately following Miguel’s interception, however, Waimea’s playbook opened up considerably.
Two flea-flickers and a double-reverse put the game in Waimea’s hands as they went into halftime leading 12-7 after a safety by Storm Costales only added to Waimea’s dominance early on.
Teixeira was able to give Kapaa a lifeline heading into halftime as he dived into the end zone on a one-yard score.
Turnovers and unforced errors were detrimental to both teams on the windy afternoon, but Kapaa managed to weather the early storm.
A forced fumble recovered by Corey Agena near the 50-yard line gave Kapaa its second turnover of the game. Things didn’t change in the opening sequence of the third quarter as Kapaa’s first possession of the half ended with a blocked punt by Darien Sagucio, giving the Menehune the ball at their own 43-yard line.
“At that point you think, ‘Wow, what else can go wrong?’ and you just hope that you can stop the bleeding,” Rapozo said. “At that point, we just told the kids to keep fighting. Keep fighting, because this is football.”
However, Waimea began to make some mistakes of their own.
A false start penalty negated what looked to be a solid five-yard gain by Taniguchi and the following play resulted in a fumbled pitch, allowing Teixeira to dive onto the loose football in Waimea’s backfield, giving Kapaa its first break of the game.
“We didn’t want to make mental errors,” said Waimea head coach Jason Caldeira. “We didn’t accomplish that. We thought things were going well … but if you follow us all year, we beat ourselves constantly. Turnovers, mental errors, penalties, those are things we try really hard to fix. But we don’t give up. They’re slow learners, but they learned how to compete this season and learned how to fight for each other and their team.”
Teixeira, who already scored a rushing touchdown and recovered a fumble, added to his impressive day with a touchdown pass to Kurt Napoleon to put the Warriors up 13-12. Teixeira then scored on the two-point conversion with 11:15 to go in the fourth quarter to put Kapaa up 15-12.
“I just did what my coaches taught me to do,” Teixeira said. “Everybody did their assignment; we came through as a team. I didn’t really feel like it was just me. It was the team. Without my team, I couldn’t have done anything.”
When Waimea got the ball back, Teixeira was at it again with his second fumble recovery of the game after another poor handoff to Taniguchi.
A failed fourth-down conversion by Kapaa gave the Warriors the ball at their own nine-yard line with no timeouts left, but the three-point deficit was too much to overcome at the end of the day as the Warriors’ defense stood tall to close out the fourth quarter despite a furious drive from Waimea.
“They didn’t roll over and die,” Calderia said. “They fought to the end. I know right now, they won’t understand that this game will make them better as young men. It’s a life lesson that they can take that will make them better as men.”